Thursday, May 31, 2007

Success Stories from the Regional Commission

The Five regional commissions (ECA, ECE, ESCAP, ESCWA, and ECLAC) established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) are mandated promote the economic and social development of their member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation. They serve a dual role as a regional arm of the UN, and a part of the regional institutional landscape in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, and West Asia. Each commission is uniquely positioned to make contributions to member States' efforts to address their development challenges. The Regional Commissions are also mandated to operate at the regional and sub regional levels.
Asia cannot achieve the MDG targets on health and education unless efforts are made to reach out to the poorest people. The predicament in most countries in Africa is dire. Latin America, which is the most unequal region, requires renewed efforts to achieve the MDGs. To tackle these development challenges, the regional commissions coordinate and set in motion economic and social policies with a view to empowering poor people, investing in health and education and partnering with civil society and the private sector.


African Civil Society Forum raises Awareness on achieving the MDGs

The 2007 African Civil Society Forum was held in Addis Ababa from 22-24 March on the theme, ‘democratizing governance at regional and international levels to achieve the MDGs. Approximately 200 Civil Society representatives from across Africa attended the Forum. The Forum was organized by the Conference of NGOs in Consultative relationship with the United Nations (CONGO) and the African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) in collaboration with ECA's Governance and Public Administration Division (GPAD) and the African Union Commission (AUC). The meeting provided added impetus to ECA's Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development which was held in Addis Ababa on 2-3 April 2007.
Civil Society Organizations ( CSOs) have an increasingly important role in service delivery, especially in the social sector where government resources and capacities are stretched to the utmost. ECA is committed to deepening its engagement with CSOs through the work of its Governance and Public Administration Division (GPAD). ECA has a dual role as the regional arm of the United Nations and a close partnership and collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the NEPAD and APRM secretariats. CSOs are also called upon to engage in the APRM process and urged them to lend support to countries that have acceded to the process and also encourage those who have not yet subscribed to join the mechanism.

Experiences in Social Innovation
ECLAC with support from the W.K Kellogg Foundation organized a competition entitled,”Experiences in Social Innovation.” They received over 1000 application and the first place was won by the the Legal Defense Institute of Peru, (known as IDL).
From Cusco, Peru, a community response to domestic violence uses a simple but powerful strategy to foster a culture of peace in homes and the community. These are Community Defenders who accompany and support victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and mistreatment, and assist them in filing and following up complaints.
On April 18, 2007, ECLAC in collaboration with the Network of Latin American and Caribbean Social Institutions invited the general public to participate in a virtual forum In Spanish on "Effective Community Responses to Domestic Violence.” The key to the project's success is that the defensores, as they are called in Spanish, are made up of grassroots women who lead the way in showing how attitudes to violence can change, and how victims of violence can defend themselves in the legal arena. These community monitors teach by example that freedom from violence is a right, that victims are not the guilty parties, that protection and justice for victims is not an aggression against the aggressor, and that aggressors can and must be taken to task. Since the project's inception, the number of local groups has grown from eight to 38 (mostly in rural areas), and the number of defensores from 79 to 380. The project has reached 35,000 residents of the Peruvian highlands, including monitors, victims, local authorities and the wider community, with whom it works in close coordination. Another success of the project is that it can be successfully replicated elsewhere.

ESCAP Provides Training for TV Journalists to Raise Awareness of MDGs
ESCAP provided specialized training programme to Television Broadcast journalist from 13 Asia Pacific Countries to enhance their skills in reporting on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The three-day session was organized by the UNESCAP and the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), with AsiaWorks Television providing the training. Participants were trained to produce feature length news items and public service announcements on the MDGs. The finished pieces will be distributed by ABU across its network of national broadcasters, potentially reaching billions of people.
The initiative is part of UNESCAP’s ongoing efforts to advocate the key messages of its second regional MDG report, A future within reach. The report is part of a UNESCAP/UNDP/ADB project on supporting the achievement of the MDGs in Asia and the Pacific. More information on the project and the report may be found at:
ESCAP is also calling for entries for the MDG Media Awards
For radio and TV producers, their entries could include a special report, public affairs programme, or a documentary with a length of between 15 and 60 minutes. For print journalists, their entries could include a special report, investigative piece and explanatory reporting with a minimum length of one thousand (1,000) words. The Awards carry a prize of US$7,000 for first prize winners in each category, and a US$2,000 prize for runners up.
Entries by participating broadcast producers and journalists should cover the contest year from 1 January 2006 through 30 June 2007.
For radio and TV producers, their entries could include a special report, public affairs programme, or a documentary with a length of between 15 and 60 minutes. For print journalists, their entries could include a special report, investigative piece and explanatory reporting with a minimum length of one thousand (1,000) words.
Entries in the three categories should focus on one or all of the following aspects in their reports:Tracking progress on the MDGs: How are countries in the region performing? Which countries are ‘on track" to achieve and which aren't? Why are some countries performing well and not others?Human Face of MDGs: What does MDGs mean in people's daily lives? What is the role of civil society? What are the success stories heading towards 2015? Who are the key players driving forward change and that are they doing?Changes needed in achieving the MDGs: - What changes are needed to meet the 2015 target for improving public service delivery (including education, health, water and sanitation); engaging communities; empowering women; fostering public-private partnership; etc.
In order to address the major issues that disabled persons face and enhance the quality of their lives, the governments of the Asian and Pacific region declared the period 1993 - 2002 and subsequently 2002- 20012 as the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons.
This regional initiative entails the inclusion of people with disabilities in society and in all mainstream development programmes to reach the Decade goal of full participation and equality of people with disabilities. UNESCAP supports member and associate member governments in the region on developing approaches that promote the participation of people with disabilities in the development process. This support is provided through operational activities, encouragement of networking and collaborative action, identification of examples of good practice, as well as advisory services on the implementation of the Agenda for Action for the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons. ESCAP has organized a series of activities on the elaboration of a comprehensive and integral international convention on the protection and promotion of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities as well as workshops and meetings on policy measures, information networking and promoting awareness.

Consultative Meeting to Enhance Peaceful Coexistence in Iraq

Within the framework of addressing the looming threat of ethnic and sectarian tensions in the region, UN-ESCWA held a consultative meeting to discuss a project entitled “Enhancing the Peaceful Coexistence in Iraq through Informal and Non-Formal Education” in Beirut on 19-20 April 2007. The meeting brought together representatives of the Iraqi Ministries of Education, Human Rights, Youth and Sports, as well as representatives of a number of Iraqi NGOs and UN entities.

Participants stressed the importance of the project and the critical need for such an initiative in Iraq. They affirmed that this is a pioneering project that could lay the foundations for wider movement within Iraq that would in turn contribute to strengthening peaceful coexistence. The deliberations of the meeting also resulted in upholding the projects purpose, objectives, activities, and target beneficiaries, namely youth between 12 and 18 years old. Participants suggested a number of amendments, ideas and additional activities that would contribute to developing the project in concordance with Iraqi society and its needs, as well as reinforcing it so that it becomes more systematic in dealing with ethnic and sectarian tensions in Iraq.

ESCWA’s work in the occupied Palestinian territory
In order to address the deteriorating socio-economic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), ESCWA convenes meetings and undertakes activities to for rehabilitation and development in the OPT, despite continuous instability. Recently, a forum was held to enhance Arab-Palestinian partnerships and to maximize the benefits of existing Arab financial and other mechanisms of support to the Palestinian people. The Forum included wide range of participation, with over 450 representatives from Palestine, Arab and other countries at the governmental, private sector and non-governmental organizations.

The Aarhus Convention is the world’s most far-reaching treaty on environmental rights. It seeks to promote greater transparency and accountability among government bodies by guaranteeing public rights of access to environmental information, providing for public involvement in environmental decision-making and requiring the establishment of procedures enabling the public to challenge environmental decisions.

The Convention was adopted in Aarhus, Denmark, in June 1998 and signed by 40 European and Central Asian countries and the European Community. It entered into force in October 2001. Its Parties now include most of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia and nearly all EU member States.

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